L3: Celebrate Individuality
I once worked as an office manager where I was berated for the way I answered the phone. I was told that I sounded like a little girl and that this was unprofessional and unacceptable. Surely adding more words would convince callers that I really was in my 20s, and not 16 years old. I resisted answering the phone with a four sentence greeting as instructed until the ‘boss’ literally screamed at me at the top of his lungs while standing over me as I slouched down into my now uncomfortable office chair.
There were several things wrong in this scenario. First and foremost, I did not like being told how to do perform the perfunctory duties of my job; I felt that I should have professional discretion in this area. I also felt that I was being treated with disrespect because of my gender. How many young men are told that they sound like little boys when they answer the phone? Finally, being screamed at is not only rude and unprofessional; it is also totally unnecessary and not truly effective.
When I went to that job, I was expected to be boring Miss Office Manager, not fabulous Jessica. I disappeared when I walked through that door – my personality, my goals, my work style, and eventually my self-respect. Had I been allowed to be myself at work, my productivity would have increased, my attitude would have improved, and everyone would have been much happier. Work could have been fun! What a waste of time and energy.
To heck with that. From now on it’s just authentic Jessica all the time.